“Being patient through the quiet”: Partnering in problem-based learning in a graduate seminar


  • Ashley J Holmes Georgia State University




problem-based learning, SoTL, students as partners, public rhetoric, graduate pedagogy


This paper draws connections between scholarship on problem-based learning (PBL) and Students as Partners to frame a case study from a graduate seminar in Public Rhetorics for Social Change. Students partnered with each other and the instructor to decide on a public project, approaching the partnership as a pedagogical problem to explore, discuss, and collaboratively define. Drawing on student and teacher reflections about the partnership, the study’s findings highlight important themes about partnering with students: partnering with students may result in uncertainty and discomfort, takes time, values different perspectives, and can make teachers and students vulnerable to each other. Responding to a phrase from one student’s reflection—“being patient through the quiet”—the study argues that patience and quiet are necessary for supporting a successful partnership with students but that caution is needed to prevent dominant narratives from silencing marginalized student perspectives.


Download data is not yet available.


Ash, S. L., & Clayton, P. H. (2009). Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 1, 25-48.
Berg, M., & Seeber, B. K. (2016). The slow professor: Challenging the culture of speed in the academy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and
teaching: A guide for faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cresswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods
approaches (4th ed.). London: SAGE.
Crosling, G., Thomas, L., & Heagney, M. (Eds.). (2007). Improving student retention in higher education: The role of teaching and learning. New York: Routledge.
Cushman, E. (1996). The rhetorician as an agent of social change. College Composition and
Communication, 47(1), 7-28. https://doi.org/10.2307/358271
Emmons, K. (2003). Rethinking genres of reflection: Student portfolio cover letters and the
narrative of progress, Composition Studies, 31(1), 43-62.
Felten, P. (2017). Emotion and partnerships. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i2.3070
Flower, L. (2008). Community literacy and the rhetoric of public engagement. Carbondale:
Southern Illinois University Press.
Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as
partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/engagement-through-partnership-students-partners-learning-and-teaching-higher
Holmes, A. J. (2015). Transformative learning, affect, and reciprocal care in community engagement. Community Literacy Journal, 9(2), 48-67.
Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
Kuh, G.D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Kuh, G.D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2010). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kwan, A. (2009). Problem-based learning. In M. Tight, K. H. Mok, J. Huisman, & C. C. Morphew (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of higher education (pp. 91-107). New
York: Routledge.
Matthews, K. (2017). Five propositions for genuine students as partners practice. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i2.3315
Nickoson, L. (2012). Revisiting teacher research. In L. Nickoson & M. P. Sheridan (Eds.), Writing studies research in practice: Methods and methodologies (pp. 101-112). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
O’Shea, S. (2018). Equity and students as partners: The importance of inclusive relationships. International Journal for Students as Partners, 2(2), 16-20. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v2i2.3628
Peters, J., & Mathias, L. (2018). Enacting student partnership as though we really mean it: Some Freirean principles for a pedagogy of partnership. International Journal for Students as Partners, 2(2), 53-70. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v2i2.3509
Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning, Policy Science, 4. 155-169. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01405730
Roberts, J. (2018). From the editor: Possibilities and limitations of experiential learning research in higher education. Journal of Experiential Education, 41(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825917751457
Saldaña, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. London: SAGE.


Additional Files



How to Cite

Holmes, A. J. (2020). “Being patient through the quiet”: Partnering in problem-based learning in a graduate seminar. International Journal for Students As Partners, 4(1), 34-47. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v4i1.3926



Research Articles